No vegetables or meat, hunger pangs stalk Gazans

Rare food and basic supplies available in the markets now cost a fortune

By AFP

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Published: Wed 10 Jul 2024, 5:00 PM

Yussef Jaber dreams of drinking a mint tea with a lot of sugar but instead he is confronting hunger more than nine months into the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

There is barely any food left in the north of the besieged Palestinian territory, said the 24-year-old in Jabalia. And the price of what little reaches residents there is skyrocketing.


"There is nothing for us except some flour and tinned goods that make us sick," he said.

"We have no vegetables to cook or meat. We need everything."


Independent UN rights experts on Tuesday said Israel was conducting a "targeted starvation campaign" against Palestinians in Gaza.

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A Palestinian child suffering from malnutrition is nursed at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis on the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. AFP
A Palestinian child suffering from malnutrition is nursed at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis on the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. AFP

Israel accused the expert panel of "spreading misinformation".

While the United Nations has not officially declared famine in Gaza, the experts noted 34 Palestinians have died from malnutrition since Hamas's October 7 attack that set off the war.

Israel imposed a siege on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, limiting the entry of aid and commercial goods.

Jaber and aid groups working in Gaza say the rare food and basic supplies available in the markets now cost a small fortune.

Sugar sells for about 100 Israeli shekels ($27) per kilo, said Jaber, making it -- and his beloved tea -- an out-of-reach luxury.

Northern Gaza is suffering particularly badly. The UN humanitarian office OCHA says commercial trucks have not been able to make deliveries there for months.

"We lead a life of shame and humiliation," Jaber said.

Palestinians gather to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen, as they struggle with food scarcity, basic necessities amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, at Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. REUTERS
Palestinians gather to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen, as they struggle with food scarcity, basic necessities amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, at Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. REUTERS

The shortages include a "near total lack of protein sources", with only a few, locally sourced vegetables for sale at unaffordable prices, OCHA said on Monday.

In Deir al-Balah, the exorbitant cost of fuel, at 120 shekels per litre, has prevented trucks from delivering drinking water, according to Maysa Saleh, a Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) worker in the central Gazan city.

The price of shampoo has soared to $26, soap to $8.

"Most of us resort to showering with homemade dishwashing liquid," Saleh said. "Any washing is in salt water from the sea."

She said there had been a significant increase in diseases such as Hepatitis C.

"Unfortunately, with the lack of health care and sterilising and cleaning material, people's health is at stake."

Thousands of aid-laden trucks meanwhile remain stuck in Egypt or the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel, according to NRC.

"Due to Israeli restrictions and breakdown of law and order, NRC has not received any aid at its sites since May 3," the group said.

Israel has repeatedly denied blocking aid to Gaza and blames the UN or not effectively delivering supplies.

Saleh, in Deir al-Balah, said families displaced by bombing campaigns elsewhere in Gaza have arrived in "deplorable conditions" after walking long distances while dodging attacks.

Almost all of Gaza's 2.4 million population has been uprooted by the war, many more than once, according to UN agencies.

And those converging on Deir al-Balah can expect little reprieve.

On Tuesday, the Barood family had only just finished surveying the damage to their home when they were woken by the thunder of bombing and children screaming.

"We were sleeping at one o'clock and suddenly we heard the sound of explosions," Eyad Barood said. The family went into the street and found his uncle's house destroyed and his aunt and cousin killed.

"We are innocent," Randa Barood said.

The Gaza war broke out after Hamas' October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 38,243 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.



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